Keep Your Dog Safe Around Water This Summer

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When it comes to water, dog owners often assume that their dog is safe because he automatically knows how to swim. This is dangerously untrue. While many dogs enjoy water, others hate it. It's also important to remember that not all breeds are meant to swim. According to Pet Health Network, dogs fall into three categories: dogs who are natural swimmers, those who can be taught to swim, and those who aren't built to survive in water. Those with short muzzles and a large chest to hindquarters ratio are especially inept in the water. The bulldog is a prime example.

Your Dog Depends On You
When you decide to take your dog for a swim, she can't say no, put on her own life jacket, or take lessons in advance. She must rely on you to keep her safe. The best way to ensure your dog's water safety this summer and beyond is to start small. Accompany your dog into water that is no more than a few feet deep and observe how well she handles it. If she automatically starts paddling, that is a good sign. However, you should not be more than an arm's length away in case she does start sinking.

You can gradually increase the time in the water and distance away from your dog, but don't take your eyes off him. Even when you feel comfortable that your dog knows how to swim, never leave him unattended in or near the water. He could become overstimulated by the sight of a bird or by the noise of children and literally get in over his head. Teach him to obey your commands when you say that it's time to get out of the water and go home. He also should not enter the water unless you have given him the okay to do so.

Boating Safety
Many dogs love to join their families for a boat ride. Unfortunately, the myth that dogs can always swim causes some people to forget to put a life jacket on their pet. To get your dog accustomed to wearing a safety vest, be sure to put it on before you even reach the dock or board the boat. That way she will come to accept it as part of the normal routine. In the rare event that your dog goes overboard, use a floatation device to pull her back in rather than jumping in the water yourself.

Microchipping your pet is always a good idea, but it's especially important if you plan to do a lot of swimming. This increases the chances of reuniting with your dog if he does get away from you. Lastly, plan ahead for seasickness and bathroom issues aboard the boat. You will probably have to train your dog in advance that it is okay to relieve himself in an area of the boat that you determine. Putting down a piece of astro turf or a section of sod works well for many people who are both dog and boat owners.

The staff of both Grantsburg Animal Hospital and Wild River Veterinary Clinic hope you and your dog have a safe and fun summer. Please schedule an appointment to see us if you have any concerns about your dog's health this summer. If you experience an after-hours emergency, please call 1-800-924-0588.

Photo Credit: Pavle Marjanovic / iStock Photo


Recognizing and Treating Hot Spots in Your Pet

Hot Spots

Hot spots, also known as acute moist dermatitis, are the result of a bacterial infection in your dog or cat. When something irritates your pet's skin, she naturally scratches, bites, chews, and licks at it in response. Unfortunately, this can make the problem much worse. The most common causes of hot spots include flea and food allergies, mosquito bites, poor grooming, tick bites, mange, and anal gland disease. Hot weather can also cause excess moisture in the skin, leading to the development of hot spots. This is important to keep in mind since summer is almost here.
Symptoms of Hot Spots in Dogs and Cats
Your pet will exhibit at least a few of the following symptoms if he has developed hot spots:

• A raised and/or reddened lesion
• Compulsive chewing and licking of a specific area of skin
• Odor from the site of the hot spot
• Oozing and pus from the site of the hot spot
• Obvious signs of pain
• Staining around the hot spot that is reddish brown in color
• Swelling at the hot spot site

Please contact Grantsburg Animal Hospital or Wild River Veterinary Clinic right away when your pet is showing obvious signs of distress.
Preventing and Treating Hot Spots
The best way to prevent hot spots is to ensure that your pet's skin remains healthy. Be sure to brush her coat frequently and use a preventive medication or product for fleas and ticks. Keep in mind that matted fur locks in moisture and attracts parasites. In some cases, your pet may develop hot spots due to a behavioral issue. If you suspect that is the case with your dog or cat, our staff will help to identify the reason for the behavior and come up with solutions to help you modify it. We can also recommend a parasite control product based on your pet’s lifestyle and other unique factors. 
When you bring your pet in for treatment, our veterinarian will most likely cut the fur surrounding the hot spot and then use a mild antiseptic to clean it. Your may also receive a prescription such as cortisone cream to help control the itching. Our goal at Grantsburg Animal Hospital and Wild River Veterinary Clinic is always to identify the reason your pet develops hot spots and prevent him from developing them again in the future. 

Photo Credit: Cynoclub / iStock Photo


Don't Forget to Keep an Eye on Your Dog This Memorial Day

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After a long winter and possibly no days off work for months, you're looking forward to the three-day Memorial Day weekend. Whether it's spending time at the cabin, having friends over for a backyard barbeque, or swimming at the local beach, you can't wait to have fun and relax. If you have a dog, she may be joining in the long weekend activities as well. With all of the commotion of a holiday weekend, it's easy for your dog to get sick or injured. Fortunately, most situations are preventable with proper supervision.
Dogs Don't Belong Near the Grill
Whether you're manning the grill or a guest at someone else's home, make sure to keep your dog away from it at all times. Besides the obvious risk of burns, matches and lighter fluid are dangerous to animals if ingested. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, matches contain harmful substances that can cause breathing difficulty and damage to blood cells and kidneys if swallowed. Lighter fluid can cause skin irritation by contact and respiratory and gastric problems if ingested.

Stick to Your Dog's Regular Diet
Do not allow anyone to give your dog table scraps or any beverage containing alcohol. Foods like onions, avocados, raisins, grapes, and yeast dough are especially problematic. Giving alcohol to dogs is a cruel practice, not a funny one. Even a small amount of beer, wine, or spirits could cause your dog to become severely intoxicated and sick. Larger amounts of alcohol may put him in a coma or even cause death.

Don't Assume Your Dog Can Swim
Although swimming comes naturally to some breeds of dogs, never leave your dog unattended near open water assuming that she can swim. If you choose to take your dog swimming over Memorial Day weekend, make sure that you're in the water with her. Most dogs love going for a boat ride with the family, but remember that they need a life jacket too.
Use Sunscreen and Insect Repellent Made for Animals
Sunscreen meant for humans can cause lethargy, excessive thirst, diarrhea, vomiting, and drooling in dogs while insect repellent can cause respiratory distress, pneumonia, and damage to the nervous system. While it's important for you to provide this protection for your dog, just make sure that you choose canine products.
Plan for the Best and Prepare for the Worst
With careful planning and constant supervision, the holiday weekend with your dog can be enjoyable for everyone. Grantsburg Animal Hospital recommends that you pack a first-aid kit if you're traveling or have one in a handy location at home if you're entertaining guests. Since dogs are more likely to run off when they're excited or stressed, make sure that your pooch has an ID tag as well as a microchip with current contact information.

Happy Memorial Day to your family from the staff at both of our Wisconsin locations.

Photo Credit: ScrappinStacy / iStock Photo



Wondering Which Flea,Tick, or Heartworm Product to Use? We Can Help!

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Wouldn't it be nice if internal and external parasites would just leave your pet alone? Unfortunately, that's only a dream. Fleas, ticks, heartworm, and other pests threaten your dog or cat's comfort and health every day. Now that spring is in full swing, these parasites are even more of a problem. Grantsburg Animal Hospital is available to evaluate your current parasite control program or help you establish one for the first time.
Fleas: A Wingless, Blood-Sucking Insect
Fleas are microscopic parasites that can jump up to two feet in the air and consume up to 15 times their weight in blood. A single flea can live between two weeks and 12 months, producing millions of offspring in that time. Fleas spend the majority of their short life in the environment, not on your pet's fur. This can make them hard to detect.
While some pets don't show any sign of having fleas, most display at least some itching. Dogs and cats with flea allergy dermatitis are allergic to the flea's saliva. This can cause severe itching, loss of fur, hot spots, and excessive licking. To keep pets out of your home, be sure to wash your pet's bedding in hot water weekly, keep the grass cut and brush cut short, and eliminate dark, damp places they can hide.
Ticks: A Tiny Parasite That Can Cause Serious Diseases
Ticks burrow into your pet's fur and often can't be seen until they become engorged with blood. They tend to bite most often on the ears, neck, sides, and paws. Ticks are more than just a nuisance since they can transmit Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and other serious diseases. The Department of Entomology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison recommends these prevention tips:
  • Be certain to check your pet daily for ticks and remove them immediately using a tweezers. It's important not to twist as you pull up since this could leave part of the tick's body lodged in your pet.
  • As with flea prevention, keep grass and brush height to a minimum, remove leaf litter, and clear debris away from your home and the edge of your lawn.
  • Request your veterinarian to conduct a tick check at each exam and make sure you're aware of specific tick-borne diseases common to the Grantsburg and Wild River areas.

Our veterinary staff highly recommends Bravecto for both flea and tick prevention. It is an oral chew for dogs that you give just once every 12 weeks. We also offer Nexgard, which is a monthly flea and tick oral product. We are happy to make specific product recommendations for dogs and cats. It's very important to never give a flea and tick preventive meant for a dog to a cat and vice versa.
Heartworms, Roundworms, and Other Intestinal Parasites
Your dog or cat can become an unwilling host to many different types of intestinal parasites. The most common ones include:
  • Heartworms: This parasite is transmitted through a mosquito bite. Heartworms can grow to several inches long inside of your pet's heart, lungs, or intestinal tract. Severe infestation can cause respiratory distress or even death.
  • Roundworms: Dogs and cats can pick up roundworms through contact with infected feces. This parasite interferes with the digestion and absorption of nutrients.
  • Whipworms: Contaminated whipworm eggs are typically found in soil. They are common in dogs but rare in cats. Ingested whipworms can grow in the large intestine of your dog and reproduce.
  • Hookworms: This parasite is picked up in the same manner as whipworms. It can cause anemia, pale gums, and severe blood loss because hookworms survive by ingesting blood.
  • Tapeworms: Typically transmitted by fleas, tapeworm causes your pet to scoot on her rear end to relieve the discomfort. They can make your pet become malnourished.

Grantsburg Animal Hospital recommends Interceptor Plus, a new product that controls all five of these types of worms. We also offer Heartgard Plus, which prevents heartworms and treats and controls roundworms and hookworms. You can find all of these parasite control products in our online store.

Photo Credit: Darrell Kroulik